Halfway through The American Way: Those Above And Those Below and the story threads are finally coming together. It’s the radical protesters against the radical traditionalists, with the rest of us stuck inbetween. This issue makes it clear that writer John Ridley couldn’t have picked a better time to bring back The American Way. Is this really set in the 1970s or 2017?
Here’s the official synopsis of issue three from Vertigo:
Things are heating up for the surviving heroes of the Civil Defense Corps. Jason’s actions against Black Power groups have gotten him noticed by the dark side of the government agencies that once controlled the superhero program. Meanwhile, Amber Waves’ acts of domestic terrorism are bringing the police close to her door!
The issue kicks off with Ole Miss kicking her gubernatorial campaign into high gear with a talkshow appearance condemning the actions by Amber Waves, even if they once fought side by side. She even calls Amber a terrorist, which leads Amber to act out. As Amber’s crew tries to figure out the meaning of their fight in the first place, Jason gets a visit from a government agent who worked on the Civil Defense Corps looking to pit him against Amber.
If you were impatiently waiting for the three main stories of The American Way to collide, you don’t have to wait any longer. Those Above And Those Below is developing into a tale about how Americans are often easily directed into finding new enemies. Last time, the heroes were directed to fight communists, now they are being directed to fight anti-police radicals.
The big difference from 10 years ago is that Amber, Ole Miss and Jason are all older and more experienced. But they’re all being pushed into corners without realizing that they are letting themselves be pushed. By stepping back into the spotlight, they are only feeding into an us vs. them split.
Georges Jeanty’s art is great, but this is a very talky issue. So it’s up to Jeanty to keep the action interesting, through careful staging of conversations. Jeanty is practically directing a movie here, figuring out how to make things interesting when there’s no fighting and the characters are moving through detailed, modern settings.
The setup for Those Above And Those Below took a little while, but the story Ridley wants to tell is in motion. We’ve reached a high point here, and there’s still three more issues to go.